December 1, 1912|
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
|Died||February 7, 1986
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Washington, New York University|
|Awards||American Institute of Architects' First Honor Award|
|Buildings||The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center|
|Projects||World Trade Center and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond|
|Design||Inspiration by Gothic architecture and usage of narrow vertical windows|
Minoru Yamasaki (December 1, 1912 – February 7, 1986) was a Japanese and American architect, best known for the Pruitt–Igoe housing project and for his design of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Yamasaki was one of the most prominent architects of the 20th century. He and fellow architect Edward Durell Stone are generally considered to be the two master practitioners of "New Formalism."
Yamasaki was born in Seattle, Washington, a second-generation Japanese American, son of John Tsunejiro Yamasaki and Hana Yamasaki. He grew up in Auburn, Washington and graduated from Garfield Senior High School in Seattle. He enrolled in the University of Washington program in architecture in 1929, and graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) in 1934. During his college years, he was strongly encouraged by faculty member Lionel Pries. He earned money to pay for his tuition by working at an Alaskan salmon cannery.
After moving to New York City in the 1930s, he enrolled at New York University for a master's degree in architecture and got a job with the architecture firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, designers of the Empire State Building. In 1945, Yamasaki moved to Detroit, where he was hired by Smith, Hinchman, and Grylls. The firm helped Yamasaki avoid internment as a Japanese-American during World War II, and he himself sheltered his parents in New York City. Yamasaki left the firm in 1949, and started his own partnership. One of the first projects he designed at his own firm was Ruhl's Bakery at 7 Mile Road and Monica St. In 1964 Yamasaki received a D.F.A. from Bates College.
Yamasaki was first married in 1941 and had two other wives before marrying his first wife again in 1969. He died of stomach cancer in 1986. His firm, Yamasaki & Associates, closed on December 31, 2009.
His first internationally recognized design, the Pacific Science Center with its iconic arches, was constructed by the City of Seattle for the 1962 World's Fair. His first significant project was the Pruitt–Igoe housing project in St. Louis, Missouri, 1955. Despite his love of Japanese traditional design, this was a stark, modernist concrete structure. The housing project experienced so many problems that it was demolished in 1972, less than twenty years after its completion. Its destruction is considered by some to be the beginning of postmodern architecture.
He also designed several "sleek" international airport buildings and was responsible for the innovative design of the 1,360 foot (415 m) towers of the World Trade Center, for which design began in 1965, and construction in 1966. The towers were finished within six years, in 1972. Many of his buildings feature superficial details inspired by the pointed arches of Gothic architecture, and make use of extremely narrow vertical windows. This narrow-windowed style arose from his own personal fear of heights.
It was in 1978 that Yamasaki also designed the Federal Reserve Bank tower in Richmond, Virginia. The work was designed in almost the same way as the World Trade Center complex, with its narrow windowing, and now stands at 394 feet.
Yamasaki was an original member of the Pennsylvania Avenue Commission, which was tasked with restoring the grand avenue in Washington, D.C., but resigned after disagreements and disillusionment with the design by committee approach.
After teaming up with Emery Roth and Sons on the design of the World Trade Center, they teamed up again on other projects including new defense buildings at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.
Notably, Yamasaki designed the Temple Beth El Congregation Synagogue located outside Detroit in Bloomfield Hills, MI. He also designed a number of buildings at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. 
The former World Trade Center
Pacific Science Center in Seattle
Irwin Library at Butler University (Indianapolis, Indiana)
- Yamasaki was elected as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1960.
- Yamasaki won the American Institute of Architects' First Honor Award three times.
- Justin Davidson (August 27, 2011). "The Encyclopedia of 9/11: Yamasaki, Minoru: An architect whose legacy didn’t work out as he’d planned". New York.
- "New Formalism". Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. Retrieved March 2011.; excerpting from HABS documentation: "Los Angeles Music Center". Historic American Building Survey.[dead link]
- Milton Esterow (21 September 1962). "Architect Named for Trade Center". The New York Times (NYTimes.com).
- "Center Will Reflect Architectural Collaboration". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). January 19, 1964.
- Huxtable, Ada Louise (November 25, 1962). "Pools, Domes, Yamasaki - Debate". The New York Times.
- "Minoru Yamasaki 1912-". encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- Interview with owner's daughter. Original architectural drawings donated to the University of Michigan.
- "Minoru Yamasaki Biography (Architect) —". Infoplease.com. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- John Gallagher (28 January 2010). "A Once Eminent Firm Meets a Bitter End". Architectural Record (construction.com). Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- James, Glanz; Lipton, Eric (2003). City in the sky: the rise and fall of the World Trade Center. Macmillan. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-8050-7428-4.
- Huxtable, Ada Louise (2 February 1964). "N.Y.C. Architectural Ups and Downs". The New York Times (NYTimes.com).
- Robbins, William (26 March 1967). "2 Firms Are Welding Abilities to Plan World Trade Center". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- "Why is my Dorm so Ugly?". Carleton College. 24 February 2009. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- Yamasaki, Minoru, A Life in Architecture, Weatherhill, NY 1979 ISBN 0-8348-0136-1
- Nobel, Philip, Sixteen Acres: The rebuilding of the World Trade Center site, Granta, London 2005 ISBN 1-86207-713-4
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Minoru Yamasaki.|
- GreatBuildings.com listing
- Minoru Yamasaki interview, [ca. 1959 Aug.] - Archives of American Art
- Hadley, Jane (September 13, 2001), "Seattle architect created trade center as peace symbol", The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
- 18 Images of Minoru Yamasaki from Virtual Motor City Collection at Wayne State University Library